USFA Releases Fatal Fires in Residential Buildings Report

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) United States Fire Administration (USFA) issued a special report today examining the characteristics of fatal fires in residential buildings. The report, Fatal Fires in Residential Buildings (PDF, 708 Kb), was developed by USFA’s National Fire Data Center and is further evidence of FEMA’s commitment to sharing information with fire departments and first responders around the country to help them keep their communities safe.

The report is part of the Topical Fire Report Series and is based on 2006 to 2008 data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS). According to the report, an estimated 1,800 fatal residential building fires occur annually in the United States, resulting in an estimated average of 2,635 deaths, 725 injuries, and $196 million in property loss. The leading cause of fatal residential fires is smoking (19 percent) and the leading areas of fire origin are bedrooms (27 percent) and common areas such as living and family rooms (23 percent). In addition, fatal residential fires, which tend to be larger, cause more damage, and have higher injury rates than nonfatal residential fires, occur most frequently in the late evening and early morning hours, peaking from midnight to 5 a.m. Finally, these types of fires are more prevalent in the cooler months, peaking in January (13 percent).

The topical reports are designed to explore facets of the U.S. fire problem as depicted through data collected in NFIRS. Each topical report briefly addresses the nature of the specific fire or fire-related topic, highlights important findings from the data, and may suggest other resources to consider for further information. Also included are recent examples of fire incidents that demonstrate some of the issues addressed in the report or that put the report topic in context.

For further information regarding other topical reports or any programs and training available at the United States Fire Administration, visit

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